Tips and Tricks for Flying with Small Children

Posted on Dec 13 2013 - 7:00am by Traci


Note: I am going to post some links in this post, however, they are NOT affiliate links. Just so you know 🙂

Anyone else live stinking far away from family? Haha, I love where I live, and I love enjoying new places, but taking my kids on long plane rides {or car rides!} and sometimes both! Gives me a GINORMOUS tummy ache. I may not be the most experienced flyer, but I am definitely experienced when it comes to flying with little kiddos. We lived in Florida for two years, and I took my sweet 18 month old from Gainesville, Florida to Basin City, Washington. Sounds simple enough right? Yeah, so this is how it went…

Gainesville, Florida–>Orlando, Florida {Two hour drive}
Orlando, Florida–>Atalanta, Georgia {1 hour flight}
Atlanta, Georgia–>Salt Lake City, Utah {4.5 hour flight}
Salt Lake City, Utah–>Spokane, Washington {2 hour flight}
Spokane, WA–> Basin City, WA {2 hour drive}

I am not going to lie, by the end of that trip, I was crying, and exhausted. Luckily, I had some very sweet stewardesses, and some very nice people around me {that is another post for sure!} Don’t forget, I did that AGAIN on the way back! {Just saying!}

And then! I have flown to Idaho by myself and a 2 1/2 year old and an 8 month old, and to Seattle, by myself. Not trying to brag, just want to share so you trust me a bit when I give some tips 🙂 It IS doable, and you CAN do it all without sobbing. Besides, even if you have your husband or friend or family member with you it is still HARD to have little children with no attention span at all sit in one tiny space for more than 15 minutes. It’s great when they get to the point they will sit and watch shows, but even that doesn’t last very long! Here are a few things I use or do to help life be a bit simpler. Hopefully his helps out with some holiday travel ya’ll have coming up! 🙂
1. Check a bag, and then pack your carry on’s lightly! I know some airlines cost money to check a bag, but, it is SO WORTH IT. Then you don’t have to carry it while you are trying to carry your children and purse, and backpack, etc! Make sure you aren’t taking SO many things that you can’t carry them all comfortably. {and take into account you will be carrying your kids periodically. 18 month olds will still want you to carry them lots! Walking across the airport quickly trying to catch your connecting flight is hard when you are trying to rush little ones… just saying 🙂

2. Pack LOTS of snacks. I know this seems silly because I just said pack light, but snacks are a live saver for me. We pack sandwiches and convenient snacks that we don’t normally buy. Things that are easy to open, easy to eat, don’t make a crazy  mess, and you know your kids will like. {We take PB&J, Goldfish, applesauce & fruit squeezies, pre packed cheese and fruit, crackers, etc.} Make sure your kids aren’t hungry! A lot of flights have food you can buy, but a lot of shorter flights do not. Don’t let hunger ruin your flight! Which reminds me…

3. Bring your own waters for your children! {or whatever drink you prefer!} I like water, because when it spills, it dries, and it dries clear instead of sticky or pink. I am grateful the airlines serve complimentary drinks and snacks, BUT, those cups are AWFUL. There is no way my kid is going to keep that on their tray and not spill. I ALWAYS take waterbottles or sippy cups and then ask the stewardess to fill those with water. It’s too much of a hassle trying to wrangle a group of drinks. {I tried, I have had a lot of orange/apple/milk spilled on my clothes… no bueno}

4. Let them watch/play as much as they want! So normally, I am HUGE on only letting my children have a certain amount of “media” time. But if they are stuck in a small space and bored to death, I let them play the ipad/iphone/kindle AS MUCH as they want. My son is three, and the last trip it was really nice that he would sit and watch a show. It was especially helpful if I downloaded a few NEW shows, too. Amazon is really nice and you can buy and download episodes of their favorite Disney shows or movies! They aren’t very expensive and are SO worth it. Or, just add the digital copy you get with some dvds. Add some new games, etc. Just maybe don’t be quite as worried about media use when you are stuck on an airplane. It is worth it 🙂

5. Take various types of entertainment! I am glad I have a few electronic devices to let my kids use in flight, but, there is taxi-ing, and take off and landing, and, if you have a crazy long flight, your kids will get tired of watching things {I know, it happens! crazy!} Here are a few of my favorites: {These are NOT affiliate links}

Melissa and Doug Water Coloring Books
$6.19 on These are amazing, you just fill the pen and you can color with water! Compact, clean and if you spill, it doesn’t make a mess! Very inexpensive, and kept my son busy for a LONG time. There are multiple pictures and types, I LOVE these!

Melissa and Doug Re-usable Stickers
$4.99 on I love these, you can use them over and over, and my kids will use them for hours. They have cute backgrounds to put the stickers on and last a long time to play with!

I don’t have a link for these but right now, in Target’s dollar section {I have also seen these at Michaels} They have cute little packs with 4 crayons, a coloring book, and stickers for ONE DOLLAR. They are small and compact and in a cute little bag, and they have TONS of different characters to choose from! I got my son Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and an Avengers pack and my little girl a My Little Pony and Princess Sofia one for the flight there and back. They are so great! And take up only a tiny bit of space and are SO SO inexpensive! They were a huge blessing on the flight! {You could also just take a coloring book and crayons, I just loved the ease of these!}

Be creative! These are just a few ideas, but I would love hear some other things you have used!

6. Make a list or mental note of some fun sitting games/songs. I am so grateful in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints they have a book specifically for children’s songs. They are called the Children’s Songbook. they are WONDERFUL and have some really cute songs where you wiggle and do motions! This is SO GREAT for plane rides! And even if you don’t have that, look up some fun nursery rhymes and make some motions! One of my kids favorites is called “the Turtle song” “There was a little turtle his name was tiny Tim, we put him in the bathtub to see if he could swim, he drank up all the water, he ate up all the soap and now he’s sick in bed with a bubble in his throat, bubble bubble bubble, bubble bubble bubble, bubble bubble bubble, bubble bubble POP!” -Check it out on youtube, it’s cute and every kid LOVES it. Just check out some and learn the moves! Sing the ABC song, etc! It’s great because they get to move around and because they LOVE it!

My husband also makes up cute things as we go for our kids to do to make the flight more fun. The buttons on the armrest, he told my son helps the plane to go fast and take off, so when my husband says so, my son pushes it as hard as he can to help the plane go up in the air {he tells him as we are lifting off} my son LOVES it, and looks forward to taxing and take off! Help them ENJOY the experience! Let them use the walking staircase, escalator, elevator, etc! Allow for some fun, and not just stress 🙂

7. GET WIGGLES OUT WHEN YOU CAN! HOPEFULLY you have kind stewardesses, and if you do, take advantage! My Florida trip, my son and I were seated in the back of the plane and were able to walk around in the back a LOT. They were totally okay with it, and it helped a lot for an 18 month old on a 4 plus hour trip. I even saw one stewardess walking a baby up and down the isle to help out a stressed out Momma! How sweet is that! 🙂 Get those wiggles out as best you can, take advantage also of time OFF The plane, RUN in the airport, let them CLIMB all over whatever they want, and LET THEM BE in the airport, give them some time to walk/run/wiggle etc! Use that time to your advantage. I really think it is silly that they offer to let people with children on first, yes, it is a nice thought, but I wait until the VERY END Of boarding to get on the plane, the less time sitting, the better.

8. Accept and Plan on using the yucky and gross airplane toilet to go potty/Changing Diapers. Have a game plan, and don’t stress when you have to use it! I took my three year old and 18 month old in the bathroom with me and we all did our business. It’s going to happen. Your diaper wearer is going to poo, and your toilet trained one is going to have to go at some point. Make a plan man! 🙂 Make sure to have diapers, and make sure to have LOTS of wipes! I do also try my best to take my kids to the bathroom before boarding/get a fresh diaper/etc. But make a plan for in flight, too 🙂

9. Pack an extra shirt or set of clothes for your kiddos. I actually don’t do this every time, but I think it is a GREAT idea. It goes a long with having a LOT of wipes. You don’t know how the trip is going to affect your kiddo. I have seen a lot of poor kids throw up and then have to sit in it for a few more plan rides. Sad day! Have those wipes and maybe just an extra shirt handy! 🙂

10. Try your best not to stress. The hardest thing for me about flying is not how my children might act, but how others will react to them. I have heard a lot of horror stories about mean people, and I worry SO MUCH. I have finally gotten to the point, that I no longer care. I don’t look whens someone is glaring, and I just try my best to help MY children. You will NEVER EVER see that person again, and maybe, they have never had children and really just don’t get it. Don’t worry too much about what others think, and just keep calm and carry on 🙂 I do try my best to have my children keep their feet down and NOT kick the person in front of them constantly, but things are going to happen. Focus on those who are supportive, and pray that you will have those people around you too for strength 🙂 I pray pretty hard before trips by myself, and I have been blessed with some really sweet strangers. You will get some of both, but you rock, and I know are doing your best, just remember those kind people along the way and it will help a ton 🙂

You can do this! Happy Holiday Traveling! I would love to hear any tips and tricks you have, too!





7 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Kristin December 14, 2013 at 12:21 am - Reply

    Great tips! We just took our first flight with our 1 and 2 year olds and it went so well! We were heading home from Disney World and flew out at 8:30pm which ended up being a great time because they both fell asleep. I did a lot of the same planning you did – we packed a lot of snacks, water bottles, did diaper changes before the flight, let them run/climb around before boarding, and packed activities. The one thing I would advise: don't fill your water bottles before the flight unless you have a plan for the pressure change – we had water bottles with straws and they pretty much exploded all over us when we were ready for them!! Also, I would say, unless you have a tiny baby, pay for your small child to have their own seat – I held my sleeping 1yo for three hours and that made for a pretty sore and tired Momma!

    Thanks for the great tips and the link to the Melissa and Doug Water coloring books! I've been looking all over for an Aquadoodle which is basically the same thing and they must not be as popular anymore. Those things are genius, though!

    • amouseinmykitchen December 16, 2013 at 7:39 pm - Reply

      That's so awesome that they both fell asleep! Lucky duck! Great tip about the water, too! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Anita December 16, 2013 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    These are really great tips. We have a trip coming up and I am so glad hubs is coming with me, but still. Ugh. These are great reminders and some awesome new ideas, too! 🙂

    • amouseinmykitchen December 16, 2013 at 7:40 pm - Reply

      that's so nice to have another pair of hands. It can still be rough tho! Good luck! I'm sure your kiddos will do great. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Carrie This Home December 20, 2013 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    Great tips, Traci! You are a brave soul taking as many trips as you have with young kids. Thanks so much for sharing what you've learned! Definitely pinning this!

  4. srinivasa chennai March 12, 2014 at 2:32 am - Reply

    Nice info and really good to read this kind of tips, surely this will very useful when flying with childrens

  5. AtasteofSF July 5, 2014 at 4:24 am - Reply

    Great tips! A must read article for every one who travel in flight with their baby. Keep sharing more.

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